It was difficult to get the costumed dogs to sit on the moving float during the parade with crowded streets, horsemen and a screaming marching band. However, my young friends, Peggy and Kimberly, hid in a large decorated cardboard box and held the leashes tight while reassuring the males.
Groom Chico and blushing bride Sandy were panting nervously from the commotion. The schoolgirls prevented the couple from diving to the side and getting carried away.
At the end of the procession, the judges presented us with a first place trophy. All of our hard work paid off in creating dog outfits and adorning the flatbed trailer and garden tractor with plastic flowers, driven by ten year old Doreen. Classmates put on an office outfit for me, which included an oversized suit jacket worn inside out with a white collar.
We were before our time. A female priest celebrated the wedding of the gay couple and drove them. Tin cans strapped behind the cart bounced and slammed on the sidewalk. The din added to the nervousness of the dogs; they were cold paws, but it went well once I tied the bride.
Mom gave me a helping hand in the weeks leading up to assembling the set, as she did every year when I attended the Beiseker Days County Fair. The dog wedding was our best idea yet, even better than when I dressed like a clown one time and a robot the next.
My mom helped me paint the cardboard box silver while dad cut holes in the top and sides for my head and arms. Tin foil antennae completed the look. Our parents made me happy because we didn’t have acting lessons, and it was a special time when I could shine.
I was a problem kid, an angry kid who solved my differences with a left hook. My friend Sherry said she stayed to my right to avoid being hit. My right lazy eye had 20% vision remaining, so the ophthalmologist patched my other eye to make it stronger. My pirate appearance added to my character.
Mom reminded me at family weddings and other events of being a woman, and I would try, but someone was teasing me and my fists were flying. Kim our cousin endured my anger as I hit him on his butt when he insulted my dress.
Unfortunately, mom asked me why I couldn’t behave for a change.
On more than one occasion I have dragged stray pregnant cats and dogs home and hid the fur babies in the toy box. In one case, a feline gave birth in our brother Dick’s prized muscle car, a pumpkin-orange Dodge Duster. I was still in trouble.
My pet frogs rocked our people at night while they tried to sleep and drove them crazy.
I was a class clown turned defense lawyer in tough times. It mortified mom and dad when I insisted on going to a parent-teacher interview to defend my human rights.
As early as elementary school, I learned naughty words such as “We, the three kings of the East, tried to smoke a rubber cigar”. The more mum got upset, the more I liked it.
It was difficult for our parents when I had a child at 17, but they welcomed my perfect baby girl into the family. I married the father and had two more children with him and the grandparents helped with the newborn babies so that I could rest.
Plus, they supported me when I got divorced and tried to help raise my kids, but dad soon after fell ill with the double whammy of Alzheimer’s and Alzheimer’s disease. of Parkinson’s. From that point on, our parents struggled with their own difficulties, but Mom helped when she could. She loved children and prided herself on having a huge brood, the tribe of Jacob, she exclaimed.
After Dad passed away, Mum moved into supportive housing and from there to various nursing homes. While living in a private facility, she suffered terrible neglect, which kills most of the elderly. After recovering in hospital, she went to a wonderful long-term care home.
Fortunately, Mom was lucky with her dementia, which resulted from this incident. She was still singing and joking, which drove the other residents crazy. Mom loved having Beiseker’s relatives and former neighbors at her facility. She loved to entertain visitors.
While mom was dying, two of her granddaughters sang outside the bedroom window. Mom smiled, waved, and tried to sing amidst her pain.
It was reassuring to have our sister Marg with her when she took her last breath. Pandemic containment had just started, and it was good that Mom wasn’t alone in her final hours. Thanks, Margie, for being there for her.
At mom’s farewell party, she would have loved to briefly reincarnate as a fly on the wall taking everything, and if that fly could make a move, it would be an Irish jig.
I remember Mum’s voice as she read me a Dr Seuss bedtime story and in this performance it would translate; a fly came by, she said “Oh listen”, I saw her shake, and she shook with joy.
Well done to you, mom.
A tribute to my Mother Bernadette, written with love, your youngest child, Doreen